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Misunderstanding Russia protests ‘dangerous’ Swiss aircraft manoeuvre

Was the Swiss F/A-18C Hornet, the same model as the one pictured, too close for comfort?

(Keystone)

The Swiss ambassador in Moscow received a complaint from the Russian department of foreign affairs on Tuesday concerning a Swiss F/A-18 military aircraft that flew too close to a plane carrying a Russian parliamentary delegation.

The Russian plane was on its way to a meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Geneva on Monday when the Swiss military plane got too close for comfort. The Russians declared that the manoeuvre, which occurred above the city of Biel in canton Bern, was “dangerous”.

Switzerland apologised, but stated that it had notified Russian authorities in advance of the warplane’s presence.

The Swiss ministry of defence said that the plane’s behaviour was “totally normal“, explaining that the F-18 had approached the Russian aircraft for a “routine check”. However, the Swiss army was apparently unaware that Sergei Naryshkin, the president of Russia’s lower chamber of parliament, was in the Russian plane at the time.

Unfortunately, the Russians had initially taken the plane to be a French aircraft, and the Russian ambassador in Paris was called to the French foreign ministry on Tuesday, creating an uncomfortable diplomatic misunderstanding between Russia and France.

After the situation became clear, the Russian minister of foreign affairs said that the “attempts of Swiss officials to present the incident as a standard procedure seem unconvincing,” and called on Bern to prevent such “risky incidents” in the future.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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